I mistakenly thought all the Dormouse Surveys had been done for the year , but the last one is done this month , today in fact . Circumstances dictated that I was to do the survey on my own , and set off in cool , sunny conditions , assuming that it would just be a walk around , emptying any unused nests from the boxes , and looking for any interesting fungi on the way round . The first of the 50 boxes at the first site , which contained an adult last month , was now empty , that adult probably having made it's Winter nest , possibly in the roots of the same Hazel stool , and started it's hibernation . The old nest materials , sodden now from the rain and non occupation of the box , were emptied out , making very sure that no animal was to be found . Sometimes , when they hear the lid moving , they burrow into the bottom corners to hide .
In the same area where a pair were found last month , I found another pair of Yellow Necked Mice , and once in the holding pot , I managed to 'scruff' one of them to get the ultimate shot of the collar under the neck , which gives the species it's name , before it managed to get it's own back on me . Little else was found for quite some time , apart from a Harvestman soaking up the rays on box No.20 . Once again , it was midway through the boxes that produced results , with two torpid specimens found , one just before and the other just after the turn , each in very different light conditions . The rest of the boxes on the way back to the vehicle were empty or just needed emptying .
Normally the Reptile Survey is done at the same time , but with the cold night time temperatures , nothing has been found for some time now , so 'tin lifting' is on hold till the Spring .
Very little fungi was found today at either site , again down to temperature in part , but this Dacramyces stillatus , was one of the few .
The second site produced the only other reasonable specimen , Auricularia auricula-Ear Fungus , on it's normal host , Elder .
The 20 boxes on this site produced one torpid animal early on , then nothing till the last but one , when unexpectedly , three very active animals were found in the one box . Once again , my holding pot came in handy , to enable me to sex and weigh the 2 males and single female . That made a total of 6 Dormice , and all weighed in between 16 and 23 grammes , so with luck , they will have a successful hibernation , to be seen again next Spring , after of course , the Blue , Great and Marsh Tits have finished using their boxes .
Two heavily ladened Holly trees , each produced small mixed Thrush flocks , with Redwings for once equal in numbers with Fieldfares .
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